News & Information From Northeast India

Sikkim carpet industry faces uncertainty due to Coronavirus threat

More than half of Sikkim’s famous carpet and blanket industry is likely to face adverse impact due to the Coronavirus outbreak in China.

The Self Help Groups (SHGs) have been issued advisory for not buying raw material for carpets, blankets and any other craft from Ludhiana and Assam where the wool is sourced from China and other countries.

“We buy wool from Panipat (Punjab) and Bikaner (Rajasthan) for carpet weaving and blankets. Sikkim depends on wool from other states. The advisory has been issued, particularly to SHGs, as a precaution in view of the Corona Virus outbreak and will remain effective till further notice,” said Karma Samten Bhutia, Joint Director of Handicrafts and Handloom under Sikkim government’s Department of Commerce & Industries.

However, Director of Handicrafts Bineeta Thapa said the suppliers in Panipat have said that they have abundant stock of wool which was procured before the Coronavirus outbreak.

“The traders in Panipat have claimed that the wool in question has been sourced from Netherlands and before the spread of Coronavirus infection. We will have to check if their claims are true,” she said.

Thapa said she will go to Panipat to ensure the wool is safe for use and sourced originally from Netherlands.

“We will buy the stock only after a certificate authenticating their claims is given to us,” said Bhutia.

As the Directorate of Handicrafts & Handloom runs two-year training courses for carpet and blanket weaving, the Handicraft Directorate requires 70-80 kg of wool per month.

Major government and semi-government units who use wool include Khadi & Village Industries and District Industry for Training of Rural artisans. In addition to these, some Self Help Groups also are involved in weaving. In absence of wool, they are also likely to face a lean period.

Countries across the globe are taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or Coronavirus disease. The virus emerged in Wuhan, the capital city of China’s Hubei province in late December and the latest figures show it has infected more than 63,000 people and has killed some 1,300 patients, mostly in China. The WHO has classified COVID-19 a global health threat.

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